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What We Learned: NHL lockout is 1 month old, and Don Fehr doesn’t have to care

Ryan Lambert
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Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

It seems like only yesterday we were sitting through interminable, impromptu press conferences about how no progress had been made in negotiations and that therefore this latest NHL lockout was growing more imminent by the minute.

Now, a month later, we are lucky enough to be sitting through interminable, impromptu press conferences about how no progress had been made in negotiations and that therefore this latest NHL lockout will stretch on in perpetuity.

[Also: Is it just a matter of time before World Cup of Hockey makes a comeback?]

Gary Bettman and Bill Daly are still meeting regularly with Don and Steve Fehr, talking about the dumbest crap imaginable because neither wants to acknowledge that they're both being absurdly implacable with their demands when it comes to those fabled Core Economic Issues. Ice quality isn't a thing the heads of what is actually a fairly power players' union should be talking about with the league's top two executives on Day 20-, 30-, or soon 40-something of this kind of thing.

Dispatches from Bob McKenzie and, more recently, Elliotte Friedman that show just how tense these negotiations are getting, and therefore how much longer they're likely to last. They're apparently growing more disconcerting by the day.

(Meanwhile, outside the walls of expensive boardrooms, more or less everyone else has been seized by apathy.)

The NHL says it's lost something like $250 million or so by canceling these games, and, as Friedman points out, this is likely all still happening because of that whole league's "the fans are so stupid they'll keep coming back" narrative.

The widely acknowledged truth is that this assertion is almost certainly true — despite the million polls running on Canadian media sites that say about half of fans really for-sure cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die mean it this time when they say won't — and that the second they unlock the doors to 30 arenas around the country, fans will pour into them, howling. But nonetheless, if the league is already turning out its pockets, it doesn't exactly portend a happy outcome here.

[More: Kings scouts who were 9/11 victims get moment with Stanley Cup]

Owners say the 50 percent growth seen in the last seven years is unsustainable and I believe them (unless something really stupid like expansion happens in the next few years) but if missing one month of the season is a loss of $250 million, four months is a loss of a billion, and the NHL season typically lasts about eight or even nine months. I don't know what kind of financial scare-numbers the league was spitting out last time it put fans through a lockout. But given the surge in revenues, and what they're already saying they've lost, I wonder if the owners really willing to douse $2.25 billion (based on their math) in gasoline and light it on fire? Remember, they only paid $1.88 billion to players last year.

There's going to come a point at which the league will likely lose more money than it can hope to make up through whatever givebacks it gets from the players. That's just simple math. And the PA knows that.

(Coming Up: Mike Babcock lobbies for Olympic gig; Teemu isn't thinking retirement; the French Connection gets a statue; the fat guy at Predators games is sad about the lockout; DC mayor asks for lockout's end; Jordan Staal's house greater-than-sign Eric Staal's house; Ryan O'Reilly, still unsigned; the Stanley Cup goes to Iowa; Brayden Schenn scores a beauty; Ondrej Pavelec finally, finally wins; and a way for the Red Wings to acquire Nail Yakupov.)

It's why they haven't made a proposal in weeks; and why Daly is starting to say, "Hey I mean when are we gonna hear from these guys, right?" to any media member who will listen. Clearly, the PA's refusal to submit a new proposal is as much a negotiating tactic as the owners' laughable first offer was.

It's hard to doubt the resolve of warmongers like Jeremy Jacobs and Ed Snider, but at some point one would think Gary Bettman will stop allowing himself to be bullied by them because he does, to be fair, have 20-something other owners to which he has to answer. Again, we've heard that some owners aren't happy about this lockout, and that it's being steered solely by the hawks on the Board of Governors. Easy to believe. A lot of them have to be sweating bullets at this point over the discomfort of the whole thing.

[Nick Cotsonika: Oilers' kid stars embrace AHL stage]

Don Fehr doesn't give a rat's ass about Bettman's demands or how much the League claims to lose. He's more than happy to sit back in his chair and argue the labor negotiations equivalent of who gets top bunk, because he's a hired gun. The players brought him in to get them a good CBA and he's not exactly checking his watch to make sure he does that in any kind of orderly fashion. He's now just waiting out the owners, because he thinks they'll crack first. Friedman says it worked for him in baseball, and that's clearly what he's counting on to work again.

There are very few stakes for Fehr. Everyone already hates Bettman, and by extension the owners, anyway. Even if fans are getting sick of the constant spin from both sides, there remains only one true villain in this unless you're a hopelessly pro-league shill. Even if he started a fire, everyone would look at Bettman like he was the pyromaniac. You don't think Fehr knows and takes advantage of that?

Thirty days? That's nothing to Don Fehr, who dashed a World Series to get to where he wanted to be. It's starting to look like all those prognostications that they'd get this sorted by the Winter Classic at the absolute, very latest underestimated the lengths to which he'd go.

When we look back on this period of worry in a year, we'll likely see how foolish we were.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne says he's more than willing to come back to the NHL instead of retiring this season, but more important is the fact that this story is accompanied by pictures of him looking at a horse approvingly.

Boston Bruins: A shaky start for Chris Bourque? You mean the career AHLer who they basically traded the rights to a mediocre prospect to acquire didn't magically become an NHL All-Star because he's now playing for his dad's organization?

Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres put up statues of the French Connection, which no one cared about since there's that whole Lockout Thing going on.

Calgary Flames: Sven Baertschi is going crazy on the AHL. Two goals and four points in his first two games of the year. Yikes.

Carolina Hurricanes: Jordan Staal bought a new house in the Raleigh area for $2 million, slightly more expensive than the $1.85 million house Eric had built. Meanwhile Jared Staal lives in a basement apartment and cries himself to sleep every night.

Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks' farm team in Rockford lost its first game of the season, 1-0 in a shootout, despite having about half a dozen NHLers on the roster. Somehow this is Corey Crawford's fault I just know it.

Colorado Avalanche: Don't forget that Ryan O'Reilly somehow, hilariously, remains unsigned in Colorado.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Murray is basically just sitting around waiting for the lockout to end so he can get the hell out of Regina forever.

Dallas Stars: The Texas Stars are trying very hard to rebound from their last-place finish in the AHL's Western Conference last season. Starting the new campaign at 1-0 (thanks to a win over San Antonio) gets them 1/31st of the way to their win total from last year.

Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway: Mike Babcock is already lobbying to get another crack at coaching the 2014 Canadian Olympic team. It's believed the coaching decisions for that squad (which will surely lose in hilarious fashion) will be made after the lockout.

Edmonton Oilers: The poor Oilers. Doesn't the NHL think about what kind of damage this is doing to their ability to get that arena built? Sheesh. Some people, man. So inconsiderate.

Florida Panthers: Don't know about this Panthers' affiliate AHL team. Only 19 shots in their first game of the season, and 10 of those came in the first period. Poor Jacob Markstrom.

Los Angeles Kings: One good thing about the lockout for the Kings is that a bunch of staffers and other employees get a day with the Cup when they otherwise might not have. The bad news for the Cup is it had to go to Iowa.

Minnesota Wild: Minnesota Golden Gophers fans say they're more than happy to welcome disenfranchised Wild fans to the bandwagon.  Worth noting that it's probably a good year to start watching the Gophs anyway. They're 2-0 with 12 scored and two allowed, and the duo of Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau is gonna combine for about a billion goals this season. In summary, everyone should watch college hockey because it owns.

Montreal Canadiens: Alexei Yemelin to the KHL for Ak Bars, his original KHL team with which he won the Gagarin Cup in 2009.

Nashville Predators: The fat guy who takes off his shirt at Predators games is bummed about the lockout.

New Jersey Devils: Even with four actual NHL players on the roster (Adam Henrique, Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson and Adam Larsson), the Albany Devils lost to Manchester, which only had one NHLer on the roster, in the season opener. "You get guys mishandling pucks. It's tougher for guys like Henrique and Josefson and Larsson," said Devils coach Rick Kowalsky. That's the ticket.

New York Islanders: Important Frans Nielsen update: He has five assists and a plus-4 rating in five games for Lukko. Frans Nielsen rules.

New York Rangers: Mike Del Zotto is literally working at a supermarket during the lockout. I expect that kind of thing from Tim Erixon but not MDZ.

Ottawa Senators: Can someone explain to me why Ben Bishop gets to sign for the Senators' farm team even though he has a one-way deal with Ottawa? I'm very confused by this.

Philadelphia Flyers: I guess this goal by Brayden Schenn was okay.

Phoenix Coyotes: Today is Day No. 66 since Jude LaCava of Fox 10 in Arizona said Greg Jamison would have the deal for the Coyotes sewn up within the next five days. Coyotes prospect Brett MacLean had 18 NHL games under his belt at age 23, but was forced to retire after suffering cardiac arrest during a pickup game this summer. Wow does that ever suck.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Cooke is getting more involved with his kids' sports teams during the lockout. "Now remember, guys, when that player shows you his numbers, you put your shoulder RIGHT between 'em. That's the most effective way to put them in the hospital. And for the love of Pete, skate around with your elbows UP how many times do I have to say this?"

San Jose Sharks: What is perhaps the best hockey photo of the year already exists, thanks to this Worcester Sharks game:

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Vicki Cronis-Nohe of www.pilotonline.com

St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues' next big thing, suffered a concussion on Saturday and because he's playing in the KHL, the ambulance probably showed up four hours after the game and left him by the side of the road.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Good for the Bolts. With very little to do given the lockout, it seems team employees are just using time they would have spent at the office volunteering for nonprofits instead.

Toronto Maple Leafs: As you might expect, the crowd at that planned Toronto rally against the lockout drew upwards of a dozen fans. What a success.

Vancouver Canucks: Alex Edler and Jason Garrison both hurt themselves prior to the lockout and are therefore still on the team's payroll. Doesn't seem fair.

Washington Capitals: The mayor of Washington, D.C., personally asked Ted Leonsis to end the lockout. "Hahahaha, yeah okay bud," Leonsis probably said while high-fiving Jeremy Jacobs.

Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele is still kickin' away in the OHL with 13 points in his first 10 games. I wonder if Jets fans will still try to delude themselves into thinking he's NHL-ready again this year. That was my favorite part of last season by far.

Gold Star Award

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After ripping up the AHL as a rookie last season, Cory Conacher is at it again this year, with two goals and three assists in his first two games for Syracuse. In 84 career AHL games, he now has 45-46-91.

Minus of the Weekend

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Congrats to Ondrej Pavelec for finally getting a win in the KHL. Only took him seven tries.

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week

User "OilCountry84" is locked in.

A foundation of
Edmonton gets Johan Franzen + ?
Detroit gets Nail Yakupov

Remember, this is an OILERS fan saying this.

Signoff

That is the feces that is created when shame eats too much stupid.

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness almost never over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

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